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Climate Change

Understanding the Energy Impacts of the Coronavirus

While scientists and public health officials are in the throes of trying to control the spread of Covid-19, the knock-on economic effects are already starting to be felt across the globe and will likely continue long after the virus is brought under control. For the energy world, there was an immediate, deep impact on global demand that sent fuel prices plummeting. But the economic toll, and future recovery, may bring many more–and potentially more profound–changes to a global energy system that was already in the midst of transformation. This page is a collection of the work the Center on Global Energy Policy is releasing on the energy consequences of Covid-19–from markets to geopolitics to addressing climate change–as policy makers, companies, academics and the public struggle to navigate this unprecedented crisis. 

For media inquiries, please contact Artealia Gilliard at [email protected] or (212) 853-1337, or Genna Morton at [email protected] or (212) 853-0298. Members of the media can also reach out directly to our scholars and fellows with an interview request. To view a list of our experts, click here


The Impacts of Covid-19 on the Global Power Sector: On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, the Center on Global Energy Policy and the United States Association for Energy Economics hosted an online discussion exploring the impacts of Covid-19 on electricity use in the power sector, globally and discuss the short term implications of both decreases in demand and shifts in demand profiles. Anna Shpitsberg, Christian Singlersen and Kevin Tu joined moderator Dr. Melissa C. Lott to answer critical questions, including: What will utilities need to do to ensure continued reliability in the power system? Will these impacts accelerate or hinder progress toward decarbonizing the power sector? Is this an opportunity or a risk for investment in critical power sector infrastructure? Watch a video of the event here

IEA World Energy Investment 2020: On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a #CGEPLive webinar: International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Investment 2020. Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA’s Executive Director, and Tim Gould, Head of IEA’s Division for Energy Supply and Investment Outlooks, presented key findings of a new report that explores how the Covid-19 crisis is affecting global spending in different parts of the energy sector. Following the presentation, Dr. Marianne Kah, CGEP Advisory Board member and former Chief Economist of ConocoPhillips and Dr. Melissa Lott, CGEP Senior Research Scholar, took part in a discussion of the report moderated by Jonathan Elkind, CGEP Senior Research Scholar. Watch a video of the event here.

Price War Meets Pandemic: Energy’s Perfect Storm in Latin America: On April 1, 2020, Inter-American Dialogue, the Center on Global Energy Policy & Holland & Knight hosted an online conversation on what lies ahead for Latin America’s energy sector, featuring Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas, José Zapata & Camila Ramos. Watch a video of the event here.

Economic Sanctions during a Pandemic: On April 20, 2020, Richard Nephew joined a panel of scholars to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted renewed discussion of the humanitarian costs of one of America’s most frequently deployed foreign policy tools: economic sanctions. Watch a video of the discussion here.

After Agreement to Cut Production, What’s Next for Oil and Gas Producing Countries?: On April 21, 2020, the Center on Global Energy Policy and the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington hosted an online discussion with Erin Blanton, Jason Bordoff, Robin Mills, Robert Mogielnicki, Christof Rühl & Kate Dourian. Watch a video of the webinar here.

The Impacts of COVID19 on the Power Sector: On April 23, 2020, the Center on Global Energy Policy and the International Association for Energy Economics hosted an online discussion exploring the impacts of Covid-19 on electricity use in the U.S. and the short term implications for the power sector featuring Joshua D. Rhodes, Elta Kolo and Dr. Melissa C. Lott. Watch a video of the event here.

Live Video Series for K12 Students and Educators:  The Center on Global  Energy Policy is excited to join Earth Institute for EI Live, an online video series beginning April 6, which will provide educational content to K12 students and educators. The series will feature scientific experts from across the institute in 60-minute live sessions where they will share aspects of their work through lectures, interactive activities, and/or demos. On April 27, 2020, Senior Research Scholar Erin Blanton led Let’s Get Fired Up With Energy, a webinar for children in the 2nd-4th grade that explored what makes the lights go on, heats our homes, and makes our cars go. During this interactive online session, she explained the basics of energy and the different finite and renewable natural resources that provide us with the energy that we need. Watch a video of the webinar here. View the full event lineup and additional resources here.


Energy Policy Tracker: Are we building back better? Every Wednesday, our experts provide new analysis of public finance for fossil fuels and clean energy. Search by country or compare data to find out how governments are planning to rebuild the global energy system. 

The Post-Pandemic Economy Could Be Green and Clean—but Not With These Plan: In his latest essay in Foreign Policy, Jason Bordoff argues that the need for government stimulus investments to respond to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic presents a historic opportunity to put countries on a more sustainable path, to be effective, green stimulus requires a more expansive view of both the timeframe for recovery spending and of the climate benefits.

The Greenest Stimulus Is One that Delivers Rapid Economic Recovery: In a new commentary, Dr. Noah Kaufman argues that a federal government response that meets the scale and scope of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 is key to regaining momentum for transformational climate policy in the United States. 

COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impacts on China’s Energy Sector: A Preliminary Analysis: In a new commentary, Kevin Tu describes the evolution of the Chinese energy economy and assesses COVID-19’s impacts on the Chinese energy sector.

Trump’s China Trade Deal Is as Dead as Can Be: In his latest essay in Foreign Policy, Jason Bordoff examines how Covid-19 will impact the energy component of the U.S.-China trade deal, and how the oil and gas collapse resulting from the pandemic exposes the folly of the Trump administration’s strategy of “managed trade.”

Latin America Needs to Protect Itself From the Virus of Populism: In a new OpEd for Americas Quarterly, Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas writes that centrist positions – both on the economy and on how to re-open – are needed now more than ever.

Emerging Economies Need New Finance, Not Moratoriums: In a new OpEd for Project Syndicate, Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas argues that a comprehensive debt-repayment freeze could be counterproductive for emerging economies that currently retain access to financial markets. Instead, leading central banks should establish a special-purpose vehicle that would act as a bridge between the vast amount of available global liquidity and these countries’ growing financing needs.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Global Supply Chains and Sanctions: In a new commentary, Richard Nephew examines the impact of Covid-19 on global supply chains and sanctions, exploring how efforts to deglobalize supply chains will have important effects on global economic statecraft. 

The Impact of Covid-19 on LNG Supplies: In a new commentary, Senior Research Scholar Erin Blanton explores the impact of Covid-19 on liquified natural gas investments, especially in the context of the U.S. shale boom, longer-term issues facing the sector, and how countries seeking to boost LNG imports might pivot to take advantage of current market conditions.

The 2020 Oil Crash’s Unlikely Winner: Saudi Arabia: In his latest essay in Foreign Policy, Jason Bordoff examines the geopolitical impacts of the 2020 oil crash and explains why, despite near-term economic pain, Saudi Arabia may be an unexpected beneficiary looking beyond the immediate crisis.

Boosting ESG Finance for the Post-Covid-19 World: In a new commentary, Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas, Juan José Guzmán Ayala, and Dr. J. Nicolas Hernandez-Aguilera examine ESG finance post-Covid-19. They argue that a world with low fossil fuel prices and more carbon emissions is riskier in terms of potential physical shocks, such as climate change. The pandemic, and its enormous economic costs, should reduce our tolerance toward these risks and increase political support for initiatives that protect the world from increased carbon emissions.

5 Reasons Why a Global Agreement to Prop Up Oil Prices Won’t Work: In a new essay for Foreign Policy, Jason Bordoff explains that even if the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia make a historic show of cooperation, any respite for the oil industry will be short-lived.

A Saudi-U.S.-Russia Oil Deal Is Not a Good Idea: In the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, the world needs cheap oil and competition. In a new OpEd for Bloomberg Opinion, Christof Rühl explains why joined-up interventions to prop up the price are a bad way to go. 

Oil Market Black Swans: Covid-19, the Market-Share War, and Long-Term Risks of Oil Volatility: In a new commentary, Non-Resident Fellow Robert McNally explores the shock to oil markets from #COVID19 and the ensuing market-share war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Potential Texas-OPEC Alliance Shows More Oil Production Doesn’t Make U.S. ‘Energy Independent’: In a new post for the State of the Planet blog, David Sandalow examines the potential for a Texas-OPEC alliance.

Reconsidering US Sanctions Policy Amid the Coronavirus Crisis and the Oil Market Crash: In a new commentary, Richard Nephew argues that the current international situation undermines the US contention that sanctions are comparatively humane policy tools and justified in use, especially as relates to sanctions imposed against Iran and Venezuela.

Sorry, but the Virus Shows Why There Won’t Be Global Action on Climate Change: In his latest essay for Foreign Policy (for which he is now a columnist), Jason Bordoff examines what the response to the Covid-19 pandemic can teach us about how we respond to climate change. 

Saudi-Russia oil war is a game theory masterstroke: Writing for the Financial Times, Antoine Halff argues that on the face of it, the idea of Saudi Arabia and Russia starting an oil price war in the middle of a global pandemic is foolhardy. But from a game theory perspective, it is a masterstroke.

China and the Oil Price War: A Mixed Blessing: In a new commentary, Erica Downs, Antoine Halff, David Sandalow, and Erin Blanton examine the impacts of the oil price war for China.

The Impact of Covid-19 and the Oil Price War on Latin America: In a new commentary, Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas explores how the twin shocks of Covid-19 and the oil price war will impact Latin America.

When China Sneezes: OPEC’s struggle to counter the oil demand impact of coronavirus: In a new commentary, Antoine Halff analyzes OPEC’s response to the coronavirus and the corresponding fall in oil prices.

Why This Oil Crash Is Different: In his latest essay in Foreign Policy, Jason Bordoff examines the causes and consequences, both economically and geopolitically, of the historic oil price collapse for Saudi Arabia, Russia, OPEC, and American producers, consumers, and economy. 

Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices: Want to better understand the history of oil price volatility, and the lessons for today? Robert McNally shows how — even from the very first years of the market — wild volatility in oil prices led to intensive efforts to stabilize price fluctuations and manage supply. 

Economic Volatility in Oil Producing Regions: Impacts and Federal Policy Options: Daniel Raimi, Ronald Minsk, Jake Higdon and Alan Krupnick explore whether the federal government can and should intervene to reduce the challenges associated with economic volatility in oil-producing regions and offer recommendations for intervention.

Examining the Status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Testifying before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Jason Bordoff discusses the status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and related energy security issues.

New Realities, New Risks: Rethinking the Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Jason Bordoff, Antoine Halff and Akos Losz examine the value of a U.S. reserve given the realities of the U.S. energy sector and those of the modern oil market. 


Understanding the Coronavirus: Risks, Impacts and Response to the COVID-19 Disease: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Irwin Redlener to discuss the risks, impacts and global response to the COVID-19 disease. 

Why This Oil Crash is Different: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Helima Croft, Amy Myers Jaffe, and Bob McNally to discuss the impact of the collapse of last week’s OPEC+ meeting, #COVID19 and more on energy markets.

Greener Stimulus? Economic Recovery and Climate Policy: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Joe Aldy to gain insight into design of stimulus and how climate policy could factor into it.

The Oil Price Crash and the U.S. Energy Outlook: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Arjun Murti, Bobby Tudor, and Marianne Kah to discuss the impact of the oil price collapse on the U.S. energy sector, shale oil production in the long run, and what this might mean for the clean energy transition. 

Building Coalitions for a Clean Energy Recovery: Host Bill Loveless talks to former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz about the role that energy sectors can play in reinvigorating the U.S. economy.

Human Behavior Amid COVID-19, Climate Change: Host Bill Loveless is joined by Robert H. Frank, a professor of management and economics at Cornell University to discuss human behavior in a crisis.

Covid-19: The View from India: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by The Honorable Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel.

Greening Economic Recovery: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by Jason Furman to hear about how the progressive economic policy community thinks about greening economic recovery. 

Covid-19 and China’s Energy Outlook: Host Jason Bordoff is joined by two Center on Global Energy Policy experts, David Sandalow and Erica Downs, to discuss Covid-19 and China’s energy outlook.


Coronavirus pandemic zaps America’s natural-gas export boom | Axios (Erin Blanton)

The Pandemic Has Everyone Ditching Coal Quicker — Except Asia | Bloomberg Green (Kevin Tu)

How to Grow Green | 26 ways to launch a clean energy future out of the pandemic recovery | Bloomberg Green (Varun Sivaram)

China’s carbon trading scheme struggles to take off | Financial Times (David Sandalow)

Biggest Power Demand Plunge Since the Depression Upends Markets | Bloomberg Law (Dr. Melissa C. Lott)

Two companies hit hard by the coronavirus see a revival ahead | CNN (Christof Rühl)

Natural Gas Exports Slow as Pandemic Reduces Global Demand | The New York Times (Jason Bordoff)

Industry Expert: With Destabilized Markets And A Glut Of Production, Get Used To Cheap Oil | Texas Standard (Marianne Kah)

Nowhere to hide: Covid-19 challenges Europe’s role as LNG sink market | Gas Strategies (Akos Losz)

How natural gas is withstanding the energy market collapse | Washington Examiner (Erin Blanton) 

Coronavirus is driving down global carbon dioxide emissions to levels last seen 10 years ago, agency says | Washington Post (Jason Bordoff)

Trump faces big decisions on energy industry rescue as U.S. runs out of places to store abundance of oil  | Washington Post (Jason Bordoff and Antoine Halff)

Oil sector poised to bounce back from the coronavirus | Axios (Jason Bordoff)

Behind Oil-Market Gyrations: Few Places Left to Store Unwanted Crude | Wall Street Journal (Jason Bordoff and Antoine Halff)

Economic Chaos Fuels Hunger and Strongmen | The New York Times (Jason Bordoff)

Oil prices collapse below zero, scrambling the clean energy transition | Los Angeles Times (Jason Bordoff)

Ten years after Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Trump administration weakens regulations | The Washington Post (Jason Bordoff)

Oil Price War Ends With Historic OPEC+ Deal to Slash Output | Bloomberg (Jason Bordoff)

Iran needs medical supplies. Trump should help |  Los Angeles Times (Richard Nephew)

Will G20 support for Opec+ deal be enough to shore up oil market? | Financial Times (Jason Bordoff)

U.S. Pushes Back on Call by OPEC+ to Join Big Oil Output Cuts | The New York Times (Jason Bordoff)

Amid Price War, Texas Oil Patch Is Coming Up Empty | Foreign Policy

The Dream Of U.S. Energy Independence Is Dying Along With The Shale Revolution | yahoo! finance (David Sandalow)

Former U.S. diplomats and European leaders call for easing sanctions against Iran | The Washington Post (Richard Nephew)

Oil Investors Grow Desperate for Supply Cuts Amid Glut | The Wall Street Journal (Jason Bordoff)

US shale producers launch anti-Saudi lobbying push | Financial Times (Jason Bordoff)

Oil firms were confronting climate risks. Then the virus hit | E&E News (Jason Bordoff)

Is the world headed to negative oil prices? | E&E News (Antoine Halff)

Iran, Venezuela and other U.S. foes fight coronavirus amid American sanctions | LA Times (Richard Nephew)

Outbreak reveals radical climate idea: Economic ‘degrowth’ | E&E News (Jason Bordoff)

Cheap oil doesn’t mean much when no one’s going anywhere: Coronavirus will reshape the oil industry | The Washington Post (Jason Bordoff)

U.S. crude oil price falls below $20 | Financial Times (Jason Bordoff)

Trump’s Iran Gamble: Will ‘Maximum Pressure’ and COVID-19 Bring Tehran to the Bargaining Table? | Time (Richard Nephew)

U.S. crude oil price falls below $20 | Financial Times (Jason Bordoff)

U.S. Calling on Saudis to Halt Plan to Unleash Record Oil Supply | Bloomberg (Jason Bordoff)

The World Is Running Out of Places to Store Its Oil | New York Times (Antoine Halff)

Oil price crash prompts tougher US sanctions push on Iran, Venezuela flows: analysts | S&P Global Platts (Richard Nephew)

As oil prices tumble, U.S. policymakers debate how to deal with Saudi Arabia | S&P Global Platts (Jason Bordoff)

America’s Electricity is Safe From the Coronavirus—for Now | Wired (John MacWilliams)

What Coronavirus Means for the Possibility of a Carbon-Free Economy | Time (David Sandalow)

U.S. Seeks $3 Billion to Boost Oil Producers as Prices Plunge | New York Times (John MacWilliams)

U.S. Power Use Weakening After Plunging in Italy Amid Coronavirus | The Wall Street Journal (Melissa C. Lott)

Oil prices hit lowest level in 17 years as demand plunges | Financial Times (Jason Bordoff)

Coronavirus could weaken climate change action and hit clean energy investment, researchers warn | CNBC (Melissa C. Lott)

The oil industry doesn’t want to be bailed out by Trump | CNN (Jason Bordoff)

Oil industry push for Trump bailout draws political headwinds | Politico (Jason Bordoff)

Saudi Arabia aims to convince Russia on new oil cuts, with OPEC+ ties in the balance | S&P Global (Antoine Halff)

How Coronavirus Could Set Back the Fight Against Climate Change | TIME (David Sandalow)

Saudi Oil Gambit Leads to Market Panic | Foreign Policy (Jason Bordoff)

Why coronavirus is a bigger problem for clean energy than the oil crash | Quartz (Antoine Halff)

OPEC Tries to Forestall a Coronavirus Oil Collapse | Foreign Policy (Jason Bordoff)

One of the World’s Largest Energy Summits Canceled on Virus | Financial Post (Jason Bordoff)